Sunday, April 20, 2008

Red Bird Stadium in Columbus, Ohio: Day 1
























KEN ASH



“And now, ladies and gentlemen, here are your starting lineups for this afternoon’s ball game...”

The deep-voiced public address announcer sent his richly hued sound waves reverberating through the humming grandstand on a sweltering late spring day at Columbus’s brand new ballpark. Calling fans to its attention, the resonant voice was as welcoming as a lighthouse spotlight to a wayfaring ship. It welcomed baseball fans from near and far who were milling about the grandstand, settling into their seats, and waiting expectantly for the grand occasion of the day to get underway. It represented the start of a new and hopeful era in Columbus as played out upon a virgin sea of green.
Friday, June 3, 1932. The day had finally arrived. A heat wave engulfed the city. Temperature reports on city streets reached the mid-90’s by midday, although the official high was 88˚, more like mid-July than early June. Dressed in flannel garb and seated in their respective dugouts were the members of the starting cast for the day’s drama to be contested between the Columbus Red Birds and Louisville Colonels. They’d be fanning themselves into delirium on such a day, both on the field and off, on this festive occasion. A predicted storm heads for central Ohio, that should cool things down, just as long as it waits until boys have put in their nine innings...This was one time when a hot day along with a hot dog and a cool drink was the nearest thing to heaven.

“Pitching for your Columbus Red Birds, hailing from Anmoore, West Virginia, number twenty-two, KENNY ASH....

A cheer loud enough to be heard for several blocks would likely have been the crowd’s reply to this announcement.
Born Kenneth Lowther Ash on September 16, 1901, Ash was baptized in major league waters in 1925 as a member of the Chicago White Sox after attending West Virginia Wesleyan College. As a member of the Petersburg Broncos of the Virginia League (B) in 1927, Ash established a minor league record for strikeouts in a season (155 games or less) with 209; that same year Pat Malone of the Indianapolis Indians in the set down 214 batters in a 168 game year to set the American Association record. For his feat, Ash was named to the minor league roll of honor for greatest performances in a single season.
He moved up to the National League as a Cincinnati Red in 1928. That same year he entered the American Association when he joined the Columbus Senators, compiling a record of 12-10, pitching at old Neil Park II (built in 1905). The 5’11 righty would not become a fixture in the Arch City until 1931, the first year the club became known as the Red Birds, when he added 16 wins to the Columbus coffers under Harry “Nemo” Leibold while leading the staff in wins, innings (201) and games (37) as the Red Birds finished in the first division as fourth-place finalists with a record of 84-82. Likely his career finish that year influenced Leibold’s decision to start the veteran hurler on this gala day.
Ash made appearances in each of the final two games of the 1931 season, fully expecting them to be his last ever at the historic Neil Park which was built in 1905. Those games, both dropped to the Toledo Mud Hens, were expected to be the swan song for Neil Park as a venue for the American Association, but political wrangling delayed site selection of the new park and construction started late.

Contact the American Association Almanac at pureout@msn.com to find out how to receive a copy of the entire story of the early history of Red Bird Stadium.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Born on this Date: Nick Polly

Slugger Nick Polly was born on this date, April 18, 1917, in Chicago.

He joined the American Association as a Louisville Colonel in 1944, leading the league in RBI with 120 and walks with 147 while posting a batting average of .290. He led the third-place Colonels with 20 home runs while covering the hot corner 142 games.

In 1945, Polly's second and final season in the Association, he split between Louisville and Toledo, appearing in 118 games while doing outfield duty (33 games) and covering third base (79 games) while chalking up a .314 batting mark with nine home runs.

Born Nicholas Joseph Polachanin, the 5' 11", 190 lb. third baseman/outfielder made his major league debut on Sept. 11, 1937.

Polly died January 17, 1993 in Chicago.

For more on Polly, go to:

http://minors.sabrwebs.com/cgi-bin/player.php?milbID=polly-001nic

visit the Almanac's home website:

www.americanassociationalmanac.com

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Grave Markers for Dan Lally and Dan Marion

All the details have now been finalized, including the design for each grave marker selected. Payment has now been made. Last week I met with Ed Thompson of the Milwaukee Archdiocese Cemeteries at Mount Olivet Cemetery and discussed the arrangements with him.

There will be an hour-long ceremony at Mount Olivet Cemetery on July 30 at 3 p.m. The cemetery is located at S. 35th and Morgan. It will honor the memory and baseball playing career of each player, Dan Lally and Donald "Dan" Marion. Marion was a pitcher who died in 1933. Lally was an outfielder who died as a resident of the Milwaukee County Insane Asylum (county grounds) in 1936. The major league record of both players may be accessed through baseball-reference.com. Each player had a career in the American Association, Lally with Minneapolis and Marion with Milwaukee.

According to Minor League Registry, Lally was committed to the Wisconsin State Asylum in 1910, located in what is known as the Milwaukee County Grounds. I'm not sure if he was ever released, but I believe he was. However, according to the death notice in the Milwaukee Journal, he died at the county hospital on April 14, 1936 and was, I believe, a registered patient/inmate there.

Marion died after collapsing behind his home, a rooming house located at 814 N. 5th St. (downtown) in Milwaukee on January 18, 1933 as the result of an internal hemorrhage.

Both players were penniless at the time of their death.

Anyone interested in contacting me about this event may contact me directly at pureout@msn.com

I am still in need of donations.

I discovered that the grave of Marion was unmarked when I first visited the Mount Olivet cemetery in 2004. At the time I place a temporary marker there built of wood and glass. After revisiting the cemetery the following year, the marker was still in place but the glass was broken. The following year the marker was gone. In the interim time period I learned that Lally was also buried there, only about 50 yards from the site of Marion's grave, if that. Last December I started a fund raising effort through my baseball history journal, the American Association Almanac. Many people came forward within the next few weeks to show their interest in helping preserve the memory of these two early 20th-century ballplayers, both of whom wound up in Milwaukee because of their baseball career.

Now there will be a permanent reminder of the baseball career of each player, and for those interested in pursuing baseball history through the visitation of cemeteries will have a new destination to pursue, thanks in large part to the subscribers of the American Association Almanac.

Death of Tommy Holmes

The baseball world lost one of the grand survivors of the golden age of baseball when Tommy Holmes died. Although his career in the American Association was scant, the former Dodger and Brave had played under Bill Meyer as a Kansas City Blues outfielder in seven games, hitting .150 in 20 at-bats before moving on to the Newark Bears. Both teams were double-A affiliates of the New York Yankees. The Brooklyn, NY native was 22 as a Kansas City Blue. At the time of his death, Holmes had celebrated his 91st birthday only a two weeks prior.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Contact the American Association Almanac


If you wish to contact the American Association Almanac for answers to questions or comments you might have, please email me at pureout@msn.com

There is no advertising accepted in the American Association Almanac.

To subscribe to the American Association Almanac, you have a few different options.

Option 1: Subscribe for one year. You get three issues, Spring, Summer and Fall. The cost is $18.00.

Option 2: Subscribe for two years. You get six issues. Cost is $32.00.

Option 3: Become a Lifetime Subscriber. Ten years guaranteed. Cost: $150.00.

Option 4: Become a Benefactor of the Almanac. Minimum donation: $200.00. Monies donated to the American Association Almanac are used to further the cause of researching the information used in this publication. Starting with the Spring issue of 2008, all benefactors will have their name published in each subsequent issue.

Back issues are available on a per unit basis or as a complete set. Please contact me for details.

Spring 2008 Almanac in Progress


The spring 2008 edition of the American Association Almanac is well underway and should be in the mail in two weeks, gods and goddesses willing. It will contain numerous photos and other graphics, including editorial cartoons published in local period newspapers.

The topic of the spring issue centers on Red Bird Stadium in Columbus, Ohio which was built in 1932. This ballpark is still in existence and is in its last year of use by a professional baseball team. Now the home of the Columbus Clippers, an affiliate of the National League's Washington Nationals, the park is known as Cooper Stadium after a city father who helped promote the rejuvenation of the park some years back.

As an American Association venue, Red Bird Stadium was in use from 1932 through the 1954 season when the Columbus Red Birds played there. The club was originally known as the Columbus Senators as an inaugural member of the American Association in 1902. They initially played their games at Neil Park, but the structure was completely rebuilt in 1905 and was still known as Neil Park, but is also referred to as Neil Park II to distinguish it from its predecessor.

My base website, www.americanassociationalmanac.com contains broader descriptions of each issue dedicated to these parks, as well as numerous other topics, from managers to team histories of the American Association.

Complete issues of the Almanac have been devoted to both incarnations of Neil Park. There you can find complete details as to the persons behind the actual construction of the stands, the key players of the Columbus Senators at the time, along with numerous other information.

The Spring issue will again offer a replete history of the origins of this fascinating Columbus ballpark, Red Bird Stadium. A full description of its contents will likely follow on this blog site.

The American Association Almanac is dedicated to preserving the history of the American Association minor league baseball organization from 1902 through 1952, occasionally going outside these boundaries when relevant. It included high level (A and AA) minor league teams in Columbus, Indianpolis, Kansas City, Louisville, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, St. Paul and Toledo.

I have just elected to try the format at blogger.com in order to take advantag of its simplicity in mounting photographs that pertain to historical baseball, particularly with respect to the American Association.